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WADA mishandled doping confession, Dick Pound says

Former World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) president Dick Pound says the organization didn’t react "smartly" to a Russian athlete's admission of state-supported doping in 2012.

Russian medallist reportedly reached out to anti-doping organization

Russian Olympian Darya Pishchalnikova is the focal point of a New York Times report alleging WADA's inaction against Russian doping. (Johannes/Eisele/Getty Images)

Former World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) president Dick Pound says the organization didn't react "smartly" to a Russian athlete's admission of state-supported doping in 2012.

The New York Times reported Wednesday that Russian discus thrower Darya Pishchalnikova reached out to WADA just days after she had won a silver medal at the 2012 London Olympics.

In an email, Pischalnikova admitted to taking banned substances at the direction of the Russian sport and anti-doping authorities.

However, according to an extensive report by the New York Times, WADA decided not to act on the information.

"It's not that we didn't do anything, it's we didn't do it smartly," Pound told CBC Sports Wednesday.

Pischalnikova pleaded with WADA to investigate. 

"I want to co-operate with WADA," the email said.

A staff lawyer relayed the message to three top officials, describing the accusations as "relatively precise," including names and facts, according to the New York Times.

However, Pound told CBC Sports WADA didn't have the power to investigate Pischalnikova's claim at that time, something that didn't come into effect until 2015.

According to Pound, WADA sent her email to the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF), which passed the information to Russian sports officials — the same people that Pischalnikova said were spearheading the doping program.

"What happened is they [WADA] got the information from the athlete and thought that the right thing to do would be to advise the International Federation, which should act in respect of a doped athlete in its sport, and the IAAF [then] passed it on to the Russians.

Pound said WADA at that point did not know the degree of corruption that was going on with respect to the Russians.

In hindsight, Pound believes the proper move would have been to go directly to the International Olympic Committee.

"We should've reported to the IOC that this is an Olympic medallist who has confessed to being guilty of doping and 'you should be deciding whether or not she keeps that medal.' And that would've put more feet to the fire and kept this out of the corruption that was going on with the IAAF."

Russia's athletics program is facing a possible ban from the IAAF for widespread doping among its athletes. A ruling is expected on Friday.

Pound led the independent commission whose report led to, among other things, the suspension of Russian athletes from international track competition.

Pischalnikova was ultimately stripped of her Olympic silver in 2013 after a retest of a 2012 sample proved positive. She was banned from competition for 10 years by the Russian track and field federation.


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